Points crackdown on French clubs over quotas

Rugby ball (File)
Rugby ball (File)

Paris - Clubs from France's two elite divisions of rugby union will be docked points if they fail to field an average minimum of 60 percent French-reared players per game from the 2017/18 season, the body overseeing professional rugby in France announced Tuesday.

The Ligue nationale de rugby (LNR) says that at least 14 names on the teamsheet must be qualified players referred to in French as JIFF (joueurs issus des filires de formation): they must have been registered with the French Rugby Federation for at least five years or have spent three seasons in an FFR-approved academy if they are currently under 21.

They do not necessarily have to be of French nationality.

Clubs run the risk of losing two points should they average between 13 and 14 on the 23-strong match-day squad and up to 10 points if that average falls below 10, the LNR said.

"I'm not afraid to say it, it's a small revolution," LNR president Paul Goze said after the French rugby federation's executive committee voted in the reform as part of its 2016-23 strategic plan.

Currently, clubs in the TOP 14 and Pro D2 are obliged to name 14 JIFF players but do not run the risk of anything more than a fine should they not.

The other key part of the reform, which follows the France national team's disastrous showing in the 2015 Rugby World Cup, is the decision to limit to 16 the number of non-JIFF players allowed in each club's 35-man squad.

Replacements drafted in to cover for injured players and non-JIFF players signed for training academies will be included in that list, but it will not implicate players brought in to replace the 30 internationals named on the France elite list before the start of each season.

"Everyone knows that we have to prioritise training (academies) and that we have more and more players trained in France playing," said Goze.

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